Google Ranking 101

Who knew that a search engine, essentially the “card catalog” of the 21st century, would wield so much power? In fact, Google wields so much power that it has actually become a verb.  “To Google” can be translated into more than 29 languages. So, to say that Google corners the search engine market is an understatement.

Why do I point out the obvious, you may be wondering? Well, when it comes to our websites, Google has defined us. If we want our website to be found, we must play by Google’s rules. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Google is the bully of the playground, it just means it’s the captain and it’s choosing its team. If you don’t want to be the last picked, there are a few things you must do.

Keep It Real.

If you are selling roofing, don’t make me think your site is selling dark chocolate covered English toffee (sorry, my favorite thing). If I find your site by searching for dark chocolate covered English toffee and I end up on a shingle roofing page, I am going to be very disappointed. Of course this example is extreme, but it boils down to bait and switch, which is an illegal practice. If, on the other hand, I am looking for a roofer, you should show up in my SERP (Search Engine Results Page) if that is the service you offer.

Answer Questions.

When someone searches for the product or service you offer, are you answering his or her questions? Content should equal answers. As a consumer, I want solutions to my problems. If nothing else, you need to give me a reason to buy from you and not from someone else. This is where certifications, memberships and testimonials should be used. Show me what products you use and why. Tell me how long you have been in business. Make me believe you are the best choice for me. If I trust you, I will visit and spend some time on your site. How much time I spend on your site and how many pages I check out makes a difference to Google. It means you have content worth reading.

Are You Networked?

Are you well linked? If you are, you are also well liked by Google. Linking is networking between sites. Just like human networking, being linked with influential, respected contacts is far more beneficial than having 5000 random Facebook friends. Odds are the handful of beneficial links are going to get you much further than having a huge number of useless or irrelevant links. In this instance, more is not better, it’s just more. Quality over quantity. Blogging is a great way to begin building quality links.

Don’t Cheat.

If there is one thing Google has taught us it is Don’t Cheat the System. If you do, you will not win. Tactics like Keyword Stuffing and Link Farms have gone by the wayside because the algorithm designers at Google caught on to these “black hat” tactics and put an end to their use. Instead of raising your status in search results, black hat tactics will often wipe you out completely. Oh, you may see a rise in rank for a bit, but as soon as Google catches wind of shady practices, you will be flattened and may not recover.

It isn’t hard to get picked to be on Google’s team, it just takes a little effort and time. Keep it real, be honest, and play fair. Offer honest content with valid keywords and legitimate, influential links. These practices may not send your rank sailing overnight, but you will climb, and when others fall, you will get to page one.

For more information about getting picked to be on Google’s team, contact us.